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What is the Most Common Hamstring Strain Treatment?

By T. Webster
Updated May 17, 2024
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The most common hamstring strain treatment consists of a cold therapy treatment called "rest, ice, compress and elevate" — usually referred to simply by the acronym "RICE." This treatment should be applied immediately after a hamstring injury occurs or at least within the first 48 hours. In some cases, a sports massage therapy also can be a part of hamstring strain treatment.

Rest is the first step of the process, and it means to stop exercising to avoid further injury. Depending on the severity of the injury, medical attention also might be needed. Physical rest also is good, because it will help the body heal more quickly.

Treatment continues with applying a cold sports injury pack or ice to the injury. Ice is used to help reduce swelling to the hamstring and offer temporary pain. A cold compress should be applied for about 15 minutes on and about 20 minutes off during the first 48 hours. This can be done with a commercial sports injury pack, homemade ice pack or a package of frozen food if nothing else is immediately available.

Compression is used in hamstring strain treatment by securing an elastic bandage around the injured portion of the hamstring. This can help reduce swelling and allow for faster healing. In some cases, it might even relieve pain from the injury. The bandage should be applied firmly but not too tightly.

Elevation is another technique that can reduce swelling. It normally is recommended that the injury be elevated above the heart level. For a hamstring strain treatment, this usually means the injured person must be lying down.

It is important to rehabilitate the hamstring, because when it is injured, the muscles and sometimes the tendons are torn. In response to the injury, the body releases chemicals that cause swelling and pain. In the most severe cases, blood vessels in the muscle also are torn.

The hamstrings consist of three muscles and tendons, and they make up most of the muscles in the back of each thigh. Specifically, the muscles span the back of the thigh, and the tendons stretch over the knee joint and then connect at both sides of the shin. Hamstring muscles help pull the legs backward and then move the body forward during running or walking.

It often is recommended to stretch the leg slightly or to exercise it during hamstring strain treatment. This helps the hamstring heal correctly and retain its mobility after it is completely healed. It also is important, however, to not overdo it, because further injury can occur.

Sports massage also can help aid in hamstring strain treatment. It works by helping to encourage correct fiber realignment. Additionally, sports massage can help minimize the buildup of scar tissue.

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